Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Police use taser to subdue drug suspect

Man allegedly made threats against Hailey PD

Express Staff Writer

Roberto Bernabez

Hailey police zapped a drug suspect with a taser last weekend after the man allegedly was combative during his arrest and had previously threatened to kill a police officer.

"We shot him—we deployed it," Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said Monday, "He was very compliant from that point on."

Taken into custody was Roberto Bernabez, a 30-year-old Hailey man who was wanted on an arrest warrant alleging trafficking in cocaine.

Hailey police received the warrant on Saturday morning, were on the lookout for Bernabez throughout the day and spotted him around 9 p.m. headed northbound on Main Street in his 2000 Mercury Marquis. Three Hailey patrol vehicles followed or descended upon the suspect, who pulled over on McKercher Boulevard near its intersection with Buttercup Road.

Gunter said Bernabez got out of his car but was "combative" and "refused to comply with commands to get on the ground."

"We'd had dealings before with him, and in the past he made threats that he would kill one of our officers if he had a chance," said Gunter.

Hailey police Sgt. Derrick Stewart and Patrol Officers Aaron Ney and Jameson Sharp decided against taking chances and zapped the suspect with a taser, a handheld instrument that can fire probes that give a high-voltage electrical shock.

"We had to have the ambulance come over and check him out," Gunter said. "If he'd been compliant we wouldn't have done it."

Bernabez was subdued but otherwise unharmed. He remained incarcerated Tuesday on $80,000 bond in the Blaine County Jail following arraignment Monday in Blaine County Magistrate Court, where he was formally charged with felony trafficking in cocaine.

Bernabez was also charged with three misdemeanors following his encounter with Hailey police. Those charges allege driving without privileges, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and resisting and obstructing arrest.

Jail records state that Bernabez is a U.S. citizen.

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